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Social assistance methodology to be changed

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, April 20
The method of assigning the status of "socially vulnerable family" will be changed, Zurab Chiaberashvili, Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs said on Thursday.

Each family registered in the unified database of the Social Service Agency (SSA) has an equal chance to receive monthly assistance if its ranks below a score of 57 001 points, assigned based on domestic situation. A one-person household gets 30 lari while those with two or more members get 24 lari for each subsequent member.

By gathering information about the family’s social-economical conditions, a social agent places an electronic family declaration in the unified database for further processing. But as Chiaberashvili explained, some domestic goods will be removed from the list of “luxurious” things. Families that are truly in need of financial support sometimes cannot receive assistance because they possess computers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and other increasingly everyday goods.

“Lots of people are worried what to do with the refrigerators or the washing machines,” the Minister said, explaining that family declarations do not always reflect their real standards of living.

Gori residents meeting with the Minister spoke of the lower prices on particular technologies to illustrate that they should not be associated with a "luxurious" lifestyle. When included in family declarations they may improperly influence the family's rating.

One local family registered in the database since 2008 cannot receive social assistance as they have a score of over 70 000. Marika Tlashadze, the mother of the large family, received a personal computer and 500 lari as a present after delivering her fifth child. “The Minister of Healthcare promised that we would have the status of socially vulnerable and we can use the health insurance for children who need it so much,” she said.

As the Minister stated, he will promote his initiative at the government session so that the methodology of family evaluation would be improved. But, he noted, computers, vacuum cleaners, stereos, toasters, and similar goods will immediately be excluded from the methodology. Chiaberashvili explained that a computer is “an important attribute” for a child’s future education and development so it should not be considered part of a family’s declaration.

The existing rating score is defined through an established methodology based on World Bank survey results from 2007. According to the March database published on the website of the SSA, out of 507 286 registered vulnerable families, 133 297 are receiving social assistance.